By Peter Buick We handle many readers' queries at SOS, and one fairly common plea runs as follows: Can you recommend a book or video that will help me to get the most out of Steinberg's Cubase? This search for information beyond the user manual has made Udo Weyers' The Complete Cubase Handbook one of SOS Bookshops' best‑selling books, but for some this exhaustive volume is too bulky and perhaps a little expensive. An alternative has arrived in the shape of Peter Buick's Cubase Power Users Guide, a spiral‑bound book with soft covers, looking rather like a home‑grown software manual printed on red A4 pages, and costing an entirely reasonable £11.95. Peter has been a Cubase user since its release, and has produced 127 pages of text that clearly illustrate his experience of both the obvious operational points of Cubase and some of the software's arcane and undocumented side, which only becomes clear after long‑term use of the program. The book is aimed at Atari ST and Falcon‑based users of Cubase V3, with healthy insights into Cubase Audio. PC and Mac users will still benefit from the book — they just won't find any specific setup information.
The intro makes it clear that Power User does not replace the user manual: it assumes a certain grasp of Cubase, although much will be unfamiliar to those locked into V2. What follows is 18 themed chapters, including an overview of Cubase, working methods (using Group tracks, multi recording, linear vs pattern recording and so on), synchronisation (MTC, human sync, SMPTE), MIDI ports and timing, in‑depth editing, and more. Keyboard short cuts are logically introduced in every chapter, and there is abundant good advice for efficient working.
Chapter 15 — 'Newcomers Guide, MIDI systems and sequencing' — seems at first to be an anomaly: why should such a chapter have space in a 'power users guide'? But newcomers to MIDI and sequencing will often buy Cubase cold, and this book will give them a head start.
The Cubase Audio chapter is comprehensive and up‑to‑date, with particular attention paid to the Falcon version. This is the longest section of the book, and is quite definitive. Everything from suitable hard drives and efficient hard drive usage, to costs, to dealing with audio, is covered. Cubase users thinking about adding hard disk recording would benefit from reading this chapter before they proceed. Other highlights include an excellent section on the Interactive Phrase Synthesizer, which is here given as clear an explanation as anywhere. Logical Edit, on the other hand, is dealt with fairly tersely. You are encouraged to have a go with it, playing with the preset templates to see what happens, but no more.
Although not offering the depth of Udo Weyers' book, Cubase Power Users Guide presents an accessible yet practical insight into one of the industry's most powerful and popular sequencers — even high‑level users of Cubase are likely to find something useful in its pages. And for the less experienced amongst you, this could be the best £12 you ever spent. Derek Johnson